Morning Star Staff
After losing 3-0 to the Powell River Kings in B.C. Hockey League play Friday night, the Vernon Vipers spent some extra time at Hap Parker Arena.
Head coach Mark Ferner was frustrated with how the Snakes fell and addressed his players after Vernon dipped to 3-4-0-1 and fifth in the Interior Conference.
“We had a good, long meeting,” said Ferner. “Right now, there is not a lot of confidence in our group. We need to learn how to trust one another and trust what’s being put on the ice. We need more from some guys. This is my sixth year coaching here and what I’m asking might be too hard for some of them.
“I told them if we want success, we have to work hard and work hard for each other. Powell River won most of the races and battles because they got engaged and kept their nose over the puck. We’re not playing with heavy sticks.”
The Vipers faced the Nanaimo Clippers Saturday night and battle the Victoria Grizzles this afternoon at the Q Centre to finish their road trip. The Clippers are in Vernon Friday night, while the Vipers entertain the Prince George Kings Saturday.
“I told the guys I don’t care who we play, I care how we play,” said Ferner, who demands his players learn how to play away from the puck, one of the facets required to play NCAA college hockey.
Ontario product Kyle Betts converted from Tristan Mullin 4:42 after the national anthem after a battle in front of goalie Andrew Shortridge.
Betts, unassisted, and d-man Andy Stevens on a point shot, from Jeremy Leipsic and Mullin, connected 68 seconds apart in the second period.
Betts made it 2-0 on a breakaway after Viper blueliner Austin Cho blew a tire on a rush.
Maple Ridge product Jeff Smith, who turned 20 Saturday, recorded his fifth win in seven starts for the Kings (6-2). Smith flashed leather to stone Jagger Williamson on a 2-on-1 with Colton McCarthy eight minutes into the third.
Chris Protopoulos was ejected for a check from behind on Vernon’s Callum Volpe with 18 seconds left in the first period before 710 fans.
Vernon’s top line of Odeen Tufto, Liam Finlay and Steven Jandric was ineffective. Riley Brandt was the other winger with McCarthy and Williamson.
Zach Andrusiak made his Viper debut with Jimmy Lambert and Joey Cipollone, while Michael Roberts, Joe Sacco and Hunter Zandee made up the fourth unit.
Powell River outshot Vernon 38-26.
SNAKE BITES: D Darren Rizzolo (injured) and F Brett Stapley sat out in Powell River. Ferner planned to play Stapley the rest of the trip…Vernon obtained the rights to F Brandon Duhaine in Thursday’s deal which sent G Jarrod Schamerhorn to the Merritt Centennials. Duhaine, a Florida product, had 25 points with Merritt last year and is now with Chicago Steel of the USHL. The 18-year-old compiled 62 points with POE in Kelowna two years ago…The 11th annual CJHL Prospects Game will be held at the South Surrey Arena on Jan. 26, 2016. The rosters for the Prospects Game are chosen in partnership with NHL Central Scouting.